Posts Tagged With: demons

“Days of Blood & Starlight” by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight is the sequel to Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone, a YA fantasy novel of angels and demons that is both chilling and unputdownable.  This post will contain spoilers from the first book, so if you haven’t read it, stop reading now.

In a parallel world to our own, the chimera are at war with the angels.  Unlike in our own heavenly mythology, there aren’t really clear-cut good guys and bad guys.  Both sides have been at war for so long that they have no collective memory of peace.  Two young lovers once imagined another way of life, but that was before the angel Akiva ordered the genocide of Karou’s entire city.  Now, Karou and Akiva are two lost souls with the power to change the world, but an unbreachable rift between them.

Akiva has returned to his position in the angel army, but killing chimera no longer feels right to him.  His disillusionment with war begins to spread throughout the angel ranks, providing a glimmer of hope.

Meanwhile, Karou has returned to the chimera and is using her power of necromancy/restoration to breathe new hope into the chimera’s fight. However, the chimera army is being led by Karou’s unscrupulous almost-ex-fiance, and Karou constantly feels unsafe among her own people.

Days of Blood & Starlight is fast-paced and suspenseful.  We see both Karou and Akiva struggling with their own beliefs, but even at their darkest moments (and there have been plenty of them so far), you can tell that neither believes that war and violence are a productive way for their peoples to move forward.  It is heartening to see both Karou and Akiva inspiring others by their example.  And the cliffhanger ending… so dramatic!  I can’t wait for the final book in the trilogy to be released so that I can see how it all comes together in the end.

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Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, YA | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How to Train Your Demon: Guest Post by Jane Kindred

Today I am delighted to host author Jane Kindred as a part of her blog tour for “The Armies of Heaven,” the third book in the House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy.  My review of the book will be posted later this week.

 

How to Train Your Demon

While Anazakia, the heroine of The House of Arkhangel’sk series, is an angelic grand duchess, the character I think of as the real protagonist is one of the Fallen. An airspirit named Belphagor, he’s used to being a bit of an outcast both in Heaven and below. In Heaven’s demon ghetto, Raqia, he’s known as the Prince of Tricks, a gambler who rarely loses, and whom no one can catch cheating, though most are convinced he is. In the world of Man, he’s a former rent boy and a tattooed thief who’s done time in the Russian zona. And he also happens to be a gay BDSM top.

His “boy,” Vasily, is a gruff, burly firespirit with flame-red dreadlocks, scruffy muttonchops, and spiked piercings down the sides of his neck, who can light a cigar with his tongue. But underneath Vasily’s rough exterior is a very sensitive soul.

Their “courtship” generally consists of snide remarks and angry growling on Vasily’s part, while Belphagor pretends to be insensitive and callous until Vasily blows his top. The inevitable fight between them ends in Vasily’s reluctant submission, which he rails against and pretends to hate—until he doesn’t.

When I first created these characters, I had no idea they’d be lovers, and I was equally surprised to discover their kinky inclinations. Belphagor has a particularly strong “voice” in my head, and when I let him stand back and describe Vasily in his own terms, it immediately became apparent what kind of relationship they had. It also became apparent that Vasily wasn’t gay; he was bisexual. Which is how he and Belphagor and Anazakia end up as a family, and how Vasily becomes the father of the last scion of Heaven.

But I can’t deny that the BDSM scenes between Belphagor and Vasily were my favorite to write. My only worry was that readers wouldn’t get their consensual nature. My editor, in fact, expressed concern at first that it might turn readers off, recommending that I soften those scenes up a bit. I pushed back on that particular edit, because I felt the intensity of those interactions was crucial to Belphagor and Vasily’s story. And then along came Fifty Shades of Gray, and suddenly BDSM was the “it” thing. By comparison, my story is relatively tame.

As deeply as Belphagor loves Vasily, and as intense as their connection is, in the final book of the trilogy, The Armies of Heaven, Belphagor takes a bit of a detour on his way to soliciting aid for the future queen of Heaven. In taking command of a platoon of Virtues, an order of angels known for their purity and modesty, Belphagor has the opportunity for the first time to train one of them as a willing submissive. It’s a challenge he can’t pass up and one that will have a profound affect on him—and on the fate of Heaven itself.

 

Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of The Armies of Heaven, I’m giving away prizes to three different winners on my blog tour: a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble or Amazon, a complete set of print books of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy, and a collector’s edition of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen illustrated by Vladyslav Yerko. Just enter via the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of the post. This giveaway is international.

ENTER HERE

 

About the author:

Jane Kindred is the author of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy and The Devil’s Garden. Born in Billings, Montana, she spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.

You can find Jane on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and on her website.

 

About The Armies of Heaven, Book Three of The House of Arkhangel’sk:

In Heaven, all hell has broken loose…

Full-scale war has broken out in Heaven, and Anazakia must embrace her destiny, leading an army of Virtues into battle against a Host of enemies to restore the House of Arkhangel’sk.

Furious with her for putting her trust in the angel who has done them all irreparable harm, Vasily tries to ignore his growing resentment, while Belphagor returns to the world of Man with a cadre of beautiful androgynous Virtues to restore the sundered alliance between the Fallen and the gypsy underground. Without their help in enlisting the terrestrial forces of Grigori and Nephilim, Anazakia’s Virtues are hopelessly outnumbered.

But there are more things in Heaven and Earth than any of them have dreamt of, and those they cannot see will mean the difference between victory and losing everything.

The Armies of Heaven is available now at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Powell’s Books.

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Guest Posts | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

“The Dirty Streets of Heaven” by Tad Williams

I received a review copy of Tad Williams’ “The Dirty Streets of Heaven” while I was at BEA in exchange for an honest review.  I’m also reading it as part of the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII event.

“The Dirty Streets of Heaven” is the first book  in a new urban fantasy series that combines elements of gritty noir with the supernatural.  Bobby Dollar is an angel known as an Advocate, which is the heavenly version of a lawyer.  When people die, an angel and a demon present arguments before a judge as to whether that soul should go to Heaven or to Hell.  Bobby argues for souls in the general region of San Judas, California.  However, one day souls begin disappearing before the process can take place, and when Bobby Dollar begins to investigate, he finds himself caught up in a plot that’s way over his head.

Bobby Dollar’s character makes this novel work.  He’s funny, he’s sarcastic, he’s sometimes an ass, and above all, he seems entirely human.  He likes to drink, he hangs out at the pub with his friends, and he sometimes sleeps with somebody and regrets it in the morning.  It’s not what you’d expect from an angel, but Tad Williams pulls it off incredibly well and uses it to reinforce the atmosphere that the book creates.

The minor characters are equally as vibrant.  There’s Casimira, the Countess of Cold Hands, a goth demon chick that Bobby Dollar finds irresistible, despite (or perhaps even because of) the fact that they’re working for different sides in a struggle that’s remarkably similar to the Cold War.  There’s Clarence, the rookie, who is a new Advocate who’s been sent down from the records department despite having no formal training.  Then there’s Sam, Bobby’s old war buddy turned drinking buddy, and Monica, Bobby’s ex, and the unresolved feelings between the two of them.  I appreciated the way that Tad Williams was able to give his characters believable and realistic social circles, and the characters remind you of somebody that you’d know and that you’d like to hang out with.

Despite Tad William’s excellent writing and vibrant characters, the story still lacks a certain spark of originality.  The characterization and the details are wonderful, but the whole angels and demons arguing over souls thing sounds a bit like a made for TV movie.  Mind you, I still enjoyed it, but I did wish that there would have been a bit more of a twist or a departure from tradition.

If the idea of Law & Order with angels and demons sounds interesting to you, then you’ll probably enjoy this one.

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Urban Fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

“The Fallen Queen” by Jane Kindred

I received an electronic copy of “The Fallen Queen” by Jane Kindred from the publisher through NetGalley.

The novel tells the story of Grand Duchess Anazakia Helisovna, an angel whose life story parallels that of Anastasia Romanov.  Anazakia never really understood the politics of Heaven until her entire family was murdered and overthrown at the hands of Aeval, a really bitchy queen.  Anazakia alone escaped with the aid of the demons Belphagor and Vasily, who fall with her from Heaven to Russia, where she cross-dresses to keep herself hidden.  At first, the demons and Anazakia mutually distrust each other, but as the story progresses they come to an understanding, and Anazakia starts to realize just how sheltered her life was as a Grand Duchess.

This is one of the most fun books that I’ve read in a long time.  It does have its flaws, such as the fact that Aeval isn’t very complex as a villain, but I was able to overlook that because I was so caught up in the story.  I couldn’t put the book down, and I can’t wait for the next one to be released!

The author has really done her homework as far as Russia goes.  When I read the book, I felt like I was back in St. Petersburg.  She gets everything right, from the landmarks to the culture to the tapochki.

I also enjoyed the way that the characters fall outside of traditional gender roles.  Belphagor and Vasily are an adorable gay couple, and Anazakia makes an interesting addition to their love triangle.  The characters are unapologetically themselves, which is quite refreshing in fantasy.  It bothered me that in Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire that Dany could have frickin’ dragons, but poor Renly had to stay in the closet.  Part of the fun of fantasy is being able to escape traditional social structures and play with reality.  The author clearly had a lot of fun doing that, and it was a delight to read!

“The Fallen Queen” is a great escapist read, and the Russian setting makes it even more awesome.  I would highly recommend it.  Kindred’s writing reminded me of what would happen if one were to cross Jacqueline Carey with Mikhail Bulgakov.

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This book counts toward the Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Baffled Books.

Categories: Dead Russians, Fantasy, Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

“Demons” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

This book was singlehandedly responsible for getting me into Russian literature.  I came across a battered paperback copy in my high school library (a terrible translation, mind you, with the title still as “The Possessed” instead of “Demons”) and was immediately sucked in.  Now I’m a huge Russian lit nerd.  Dostoevsky, I blame you!

Dostoevsky’s work is, of course, masterful.  In this novel, he tells the story of a socialist revolutionary terrorist cell that forms within a community.  In order to cement the group together, its leaders plan a murder.  Rather than working as intended, the murder tears the group apart and it destroys itself from within.  The characters are memorable–Stavrogin, constantly challenging society and acting like a charismatic 19th century version of an internet troll, Pyotr Verkhovensky, the evil genius who forms the brains behind the terrorist cell.  Characters are well developed, and can be read not only on the surface but also as representing the different clashes of ideas occurring in Russia at the time, and the novel itself was based on a historical event.

Without going into too much depth (I wrote my undergrad thesis on this book, so I really could talk all day about it), I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Russian literature.  I also think that it’s extremely relevant today, as it’s one of the few fictional accounts of the inner dynamics of a terrorist group.

Categories: Dead Russians, Fiction | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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